Desk Visits

Garrus has always been reserved but he has been slowly becoming more affectionate. Being on Zylkene has noticeably helped him be more relaxed, faff about less and actually eat at meal times, and regularly ask for pets. He’s not accustomed to being picked up or held much, though, so we will continue to work on that.

Lately, Garrus started jumping onto Aaron’s Mac desk in his office and recently started to do the same on my desk more often as well. At first, he was more interested in sniffing the monitors and investigating everything on the desk. When he turned his attention to either Aaron or me, he seemed like he didn’t know what to do. (Charlie and Mau, by contrast, know exactly how to ask for pets and can be most persuasive about it.) We talk to him and offer him scritches, and if he is in the way (e.g. standing in front of the monitor we are working on), we can ask him to move and he does. He doesn’t knock items off the desk either.

“Excuse me, I would like attention please.”

“Pardon me, madam. Would you please take a break from reading your library book to give me scritches? I would most appreciate it.” After giving me this look, he softly bunted my chin and he received a smooch on his head in return. [please excuse the messy desk]

Often, when Garrus comes over for desk visits, Charlie trots into my office squeaking and flops onto the window seat for his own visit. Then I have to ensure both kitties get enough attention! It’s a demanding job to be sure.

Look at this purr monster!

I believe that Charlie is a happy little boy. I mean, look at that face!

Do your cats demand desk visits? Do they demand visits in other locales in your home? Do they get obnoxious about it or are they polite? Please share in the comments!

Hugs All Around!

Today is National Hugging Day! It is officially recognized by the United States Copyright Office but is not considered a public holiday. Here’s how you can celebrate:

  1. Give hugs freely. Hug your designated person. Hug your family members. Hug your friends. Offer to give out free hugs to strangers if that’s your thing. (National Hugging Day and the Free Hugs Campaign are not associated with one another.) NB: If someone is not interested in receiving a hug from you, respect that person’s wish. It’s not cool to hug people against their will.
  2. Hug your pets! Boudicca is always down for a hug, especially if lap time is involved. While Charlie is affectionate, a hug is a totally new concept to him. Garrus doesn’t like in-your-face demonstrations of affection, and I respect that. NB: If your pet isn’t keen on receiving hugs, don’t force it. Not all cats and dogs enjoy being hugged. Respect this and instead give your pet another form of affection, like scritches behind the ears or play time.
  3. Give hugs to other pets. Don’t have a pet of your own? Perhaps a family member or friend’s pet is available for assorted displays of affection. You can also head to your nearest animal shelter and become a volunteer. One of the great things I get to do in the cat room at my shelter is make sure all the cats there get enough love and socialization. A number of them are fond of hugs and being held but others prefer an opportunity to explore and play!

Happy Cuddle Up Day!

Happy Cuddle Up Day! Especially in the cold heart of winter, don’t you think that’s an appropriate holiday to celebrate?

I just learned about a most apt idiom: a “three dog night,” where a night is so cold it requires three dogs snuggling close to keep warm. (I would imagine cuddling with three Newfoundlands would be a most different experience than say, three Chinese crested dogs. In my house, if it got cold enough, it would definitely be called a “three cat night”.)

Although it’s warming up where I live, I am always game for a cuddle, and I am fortunate to have Boudicca, who is definitely my cuddliest cat and demands regularly scheduled lap time every evening. Charlie and Garrus absolutely love to cuddle with one another and freely use each other as pillows. That’s one of the reasons why we could not bear to separate them and adopted them together.

Grammar Geek Alert!: What’s the difference between cuddle and snuggle?

In English we use these terms interchangeably. Cuddle [noun] is defined as an affectionate embrace, often given to family members and close friends. [I would argue this applies to fur people.] Snuggle [noun] is sometimes defined as an affectionate hug. There the words are nearly identical but the given definition for snuggle is not always correct. The connotation for the word snuggle usually implies lying closely and comfortably, as in a nest. As verbs, however, the two words have more distinct definitions.

  1. Cuddle [verb]: to embrace affectionately, to lie together snugly; to cradle in one’s arms so as to give comfort or warmth; to lie close or snug; to crouch; to nestle.
  2. Snuggle [verb]: to lie close to another person or thing, hugging or being cozy; to move or arrange oneself in a comfortable or cozy position

I could dig into etymologies but that would be a tangent…In any case, now you know the difference between the two words! However, they are clearly synonyms.

Whether you prefer to cuddle, snuggle, lie under the covers, lounge on the couch binge watching Netflix, or simply be in the general vicinity of your pet (and human companions, if you feel so inclined), there are all kinds of benefits for doing this! Here are a few suggested activities for Cuddle Up Day:

  1. Building trust. This is a crucial element of any relationship between human and pet. A pet that does not trust its human and vice versa will not have a very stable or healthy working relationship. Both humans and pet need to develop trust in the other, and that does need hard work, time, and patience in both parties. Personally speaking, Aaron and I have worked hard to build Garrus and Charlie’s trust (and vice versa) since we fostered and adopted them. It’s been very rewarding and the boys are so much happier for it.
  2. Warmth. It’s January–it’s cold. Enough said!
  3. Affection. One of the reasons humans keep pets is to give spontaneous displays of affection. Or maybe that’s just me. Once in a while Garrus gives me his vampy smile after I kiss his head, and all three cats slow blink at me when they feel particularly relaxed.
  4. Oxytocin. If you engage in serious cuddling (yay!), there’s a chemical reaction at work, and it’s called oxytocin. Basically it’s the warm fuzzies. It is also the same hormone that causes mothers to bond with their newborn infants. For humans, oxytocin has a number of health benefits such as reducing heart disease, reducing blood pressure, dulling pain and muscle aches, lowering stress and anxiety, mitigating depression, and boosting the immune system. Studies have indicated that trust [between humans] develops as a result of the release of oxytocin, so it could very well develop in between owners and pets. In short, everyone feels the benefits of this happy-making hormone. Expect purring and tail-wagging.
  5. Cuddle party. Have a bash. Stay in your PJs or go all out and invite your friends, humans, canine, and/or feline alike. (For all you rodent, ferret, and bird fans, please enjoy yourselves too. I believe that all critters should be loved equally.) Strategically place pets on or around you and get cozy. Watch movies. Make pet-friendly treats. Distribute belly rubs freely. Have fun!

NB: Not all pets will be comfortable cuddling close. Some pets have larger personal bubbles of space and will not move closer no matter how much you entice them. Do not force your pets to do anything they genuinely do not wish to do.

If your pet needs extra space, respect that need. Provide them cozy bedding and toys. Don’t ignore your reserved or shy pet; give them attention and affection (especially if there are other pets in the house), talk to them, and periodically and invite your pet to join you if they wish. If your pet has a fearful reaction when picked up (for example, if you’ve adopted a former stray that had minimal handling), talk to your pet about this behavior. This may be something that you will need to work on to lessen your pet’s anxiety, or it may indicate a medical issue.

Garrus, for example, can be affectionate but he is completely unaccustomed to being picked up. This is most inconvenient when we need to trim his nails. While he may never be a cuddly cat and I can respect that, I do not want him to be fearful when we trim his nails or when the vet examines him. We are acclimating him to being handled.

How are you going to celebrate Cuddle Up Day?

Morning Snuggles

IMG_2076Apparently the cats missed us while we were gone over the Thanksgiving holiday. (Don’t worry; they were not left utterly alone. A dear friend and fellow cat lady checked in on them on Thursday and Friday and gave them an abundance of affection.) I was slightly worried that the boys would be skittish when we returned home but, thankfully, they were relaxed. All three cats sought us out for scritches and Boudicca was insistent to return to her regularly scheduled lap time as soon as possible.

This morning Boudicca woke Aaron up by walking across his face and pillow in order to curl up between us and our pillows. (For those who do not know, face- and pillow-walking is a common occurrence with cats. Some cats are more polite about it than others.) Commence snuggles, pets, and happy purring cat time! She was quite content to use my hand and arm as a chin rest and seemed quite pleased with herself when Aaron babbled at her, telling her that she was a sweet and pretty girl. (Boudicca seems to enjoy and expect compliments at regular intervals.)

Whenever the Downton Tabbies realize we’re awake, they usually come into the bedroom to investigate and receive rubs too. Garrus hung out on the floor, despite our repeated attempts to invite him up. (When we got out of bed, he received plenty of attention in the living room.) Charlie, however, did not need much coaxing to jump onto the bed. This morning he wanted all the affection he could get from Aaron and purred enthusiastically away, so loud that it drowned out Boudicca’s purrs.

Aaron: Good morning, little man.

Charlie: Hi Dad! Hi Mama! It’s lovey time, yes?

Aaron: Yes. Would you like to visit? *gives scritches and pets*

Charlie: Oh yes! This is my favorite thing! (NB: Charlie has many favorite things.)

Aaron: Now can I pick you up?

Charlie: Maybe. But you’ll have to convince me to get unstuck from the comforter.

Aaron: *disengages Charlie’s claw snags and places cat in his lap* Now what do you think about lap time? *gives back strokes, scritches, and rubs accordingly*

Charlie: This is lap time?! This is awesome! It’s so snuggly and comfy! This is my favorite thing! *BIG PURR*

Cat Parent Achievement Unlocked: We have successfully introduced Charlie to the practice of lap time. He stayed in Aaron’s lap for about 10 minutes and didn’t wiggle all over the place! Success!

Unfortunately, Charlie decided to move out of Aaron’s lap just before I was able to snap a photo.

All in all, this was an excellent way to start off a Saturday morning!

Needy Cats

This morning Charlie woke up and came onto the bed for a visit before we got up. (It was quite snuggly under the covers so we didn’t want to leave.) He was very insistent about receiving sufficient affection and both squeaked and purred up a storm about it. Garrus came onto the bed as well but he had not yet decided whether or not he wanted rubs once he got there. Boudicca arrived late to the game but was more interested in receiving morsels from Aaron than anything else. I think the cats were cold this morning, and that is the factor that underlies their neediness this morning.

Charlie discovered my desk today! Three times he sat on the window seat near the corner of my desk, tentatively put his paws on the edge, and then invited himself onto the desk so he could investigate everything. I’ve been able to pick him up from the desk once when he blocked my view of my dual monitors. I held him against my chest in a snuggle and he purred very loudly about it!

Charlie: Hi Mama. Whatcha doin’? *squeaks*

Me: I’m working at my computer. I will give you rubs, though.

Charlie: What’s up there? I must see for myself! *jumps onto desk, sniffing everything, blocking my screens*

Me: Ahem. Charlie, this is not conducive to working. I need to be able to type and see my screens.

Charlie: What’s work? Besides, I’m cute and more important. Love me?

Me: Oh, alright. *picks him up and holds him*

Charlie: I can get on board with this snuggling thing. *PURR PURR PURR*

Garrus: Excuse me. I am looking for warms. May I sunbathe here?

Me: Absolutely. *gives rubs*

Garrus: *gives mournful look* I’m cold. Please fix it. *finds a stretch of sun and turns into loaf cat* I will contemplate the universe from this location. This spot of warm is acceptable.

Boudicca: This is why I LOVE my bed. Sunlight hits it just right in the morning so I don’t have to get up! And I have my pink blanket. The blanket makes my bed in a box even better. Y’all are jealous of my awesome box-bed.

Lovey Time

Are your cats more affectionate at certain times of the day or are they all-day love sponges? What do they do to elicit your attention? Where do you they like being pet the most?

In my adult life I have had four cats and each one has his or her own “lovey time”. This lovey time is not necessarily tied with feeding time so it’s interesting to note the differences. Each cat has his or her unique preferences too.


Particularly before we got the boys, Boudicca starts off her day by greeting us and asking for a visit. If she thinks she can get away with it, she flops between us, purring away and acting as though she owns the place. She loves long strokes from her head to the end of her tail, scritches on her cheeks, thumb rubs on the top of her head…any form of affection, really.

Garrus lately has demonstrated that he too is a morning cat. Once he realizes that we’re awake, he usually swaggers into the bedroom with his tail high in the hair. Occasionally he’ll jump on the bed and receive a visit before or after breakfast but often he gives us walk-by tail hugs once we get into the kitchen. His favorite visiting spot is the ottoman in the living room. For some reason he seems more comfortable when we sit there, allowing him to approach us if he wants and receive back strokes and neck scritches. He likes it most when we scritch the side of his neck and chest simultaneously. Garrus also gives head bunts, particularly if he is on the bed.

Charlie is a busy, kittenish boy and, like Garrus, is still settling into life in our house. When we wake up and have breakfast, he is usually snoozing in one of his tower spots (either the penthouse kitty condo or the platform directly above it). If we give him pets while he’s up there, he opens his eyes and often flips onto his side or completely upside down to expose his belly, allowing us to give him belly rubs and remind him how handsome he is. But, like a sleepy kid who doesn’t want to get up for school, he generally doesn’t really wake up and want to engage with us until at least an hour later. When he’s up, he’s raring to go–squeaking, trotting around the house, looking for toys to play with, and eagerly greeting Garrus. Sometimes he’ll have a morning scamper session, sometimes not.

Somewhere between ten minutes and over an hour after Aaron has left for work, Charlie tends to trot over to my office for a pit stop visit (frequently squeaking his arrival) and start his morning bird-watching session. (Keep in mind that, according to The Fur Person by May Sarton, a cat sitting on the window sill or seat is doing the feline equivalent of reading the morning newspaper.) When he’s on the window seat in my office, he happily flops over for a belly rub or bunts my hand and squeaks at me. Sometimes Garrus joins him, sometimes not; a few times Charlie has managed to sneak up onto the window seat and share it with Boudicca, apparently without her knowledge. Of course, Charlie is just as likely to receive exactly two pets from me before he darts off to fish his latest favorite toy from under furniture or convince Garrus to join him some shenanigans.


Boudicca is happy to receive adoration at any time of the day. She loves it when she gets brushed and will purr enthusiastically and pirouettes as she walks back and forth so I can brush each side equally. Although she is doing this less as she gets older, Boudicca does like to follow me around the house and complains when I leave her (sleeping) presence without her permission. She is absolutely elated when she gets spontaneous lap time when, say, I decide to read on the couch. (I can’t very well read unaccompanied by my dedicated reading buddy.) Boudicca is a pleasant napping companion and offers purring comfort if I am dealing with a migraine. She’s such a sweetheart.

During the day, Garrus is generally more interested in snoozing, playing with Charlie, and sunbathing in the afternoon. It’s a mixed bag whether another lovey time fits into his schedule during the day. If he’s been able to sunbathe for a while and feels particularly relaxed, he has been known to be amenable to unofficial afternoon lovey time. Charlie divides his time between sleeping and scampering, but he does seem to enjoy brief visits while he lazes in his spot on the cat tower. He is also a fan of pit stop visits in my office, where he announces himself (squeaking), approaches me at my desk, and allows between two and eight pets before moving off. If he has the window seat for himself, he may roll onto his back and enjoy a belly rub, but he’s still fairly wiggly.


Boudicca used to habitually race to the bedroom and jump on the bed when Aaron returned from work, talking all the while until he flopped on the bed to visit her. (If someone babbles at her during a visit, she would feel obligated to contribute to the conversation.) Post-work visits have occurred less consistently since the boys fully transitioned out of Aaron’s office and have free reign of the house, but if the bed is unoccupied by the boys, she purrs contentedly as Aaron talks to and pets her. Boudicca also enjoys receiving a post-dinner visit on the bed, especially if the boys do not get on the bed and thus interrupt her visit. If I pick her up to love on her, she generally purrs, goes limp, and halfheartedly makes air biscuits (periodically spreading and curling her toes). It’s pretty cute.

The other highlight of Boudicca’s day is her regularly scheduled lap time in the evening as we sit on the couch and watch a TV show or play video games. Keep in mind, when Boudicca gets into my lap, she can sprawl from nearly my knees to my chest. Lap time means a partially or totally liquid and boneless cat with a throaty purr immobilizes my legs until she decides to get up and try to steal the boys’ food. (About five minutes later, after we’ve prevented her from eating Garrus’ food, she comes back and asks to be invited up or placed into my lap.) Throughout lap time Boudicca expects pets and occasional smooches right between her ears. (She’s not spoiled at all.)

In the evening, the Downton Tabbies seem to be more interested in playing than having a visit, but they will occasionally pause for scritches. Lately we have been working on introducing the boys to lap time and encouraging them to engage with us through shameless bribery with treats. With and without the enticement of treats, Charlie has sporadically jumped up onto our laps, much to our joy. Garrus has ventured onto the back or the arm of the couch but not our laps…yet.


Nala also had morning and evening lovey times. She didn’t want to get onto the bed with us, or did so rarely, but for several years we’d find her sitting patiently next to the cabinet by the fridge. Aaron stands there to grind coffee and Nala felt it was her duty to (A) greet him enthusiastically with her bratty-sounding meow, (B) sit nearly on top of his feet as he ground coffee, and (C) wait for Aaron (her Chosen Person/boyfriend) to give her the adoration she wanted. This was one of the cutest habits she did.

During her morning lovey time Nala felt obligated to polish everyone’s ankles thoroughly by rubbing on them and then tickling us with tail hugs. She was also insistent that Aaron give her a second visit before he left for work. Whenever Aaron gave her attention Nala habitually purred and snuffled as a way to express her joy. (When I say snuffle, imagine a combination of a raspy purr, a tiger’s chuff, and loud exhalations. She primarily made this noise in Aaron’s presence and it was both odd and adorable.)

While Nala enjoyed getting pets and belly rubs from me as well, she was clearly less excited about my visits after she totally defected to Aaron. When Aaron came home from work, she was quite assertive about how eager she was in receiving a visit on our bed or at one of her favorite spots (her bed, a box, etc.). She also liked to sit on or between his feet as he washed dishes or loaded/unloaded the dishwasher. She was quite effective at getting in the way while simultaneously being really cute about it!

In the evening Nala generally hung around in her latest favorite spot in the living room and waited for additional visits from Aaron or, oh joy, lap time with her Chosen Person. (Sometimes the girls competed for available laps. Boudicca and Nala generally did not like to be on our laps at the same time but would sometimes tolerate it if they were facing different directions and had adequate space between them.) During lap time Nala typically became exuberantly content and snuffled loudly as she kneaded on the crocheted blanket or towel on our laps. When Nala kneaded, 85% of the time her face resembled that of a stoned Yoda and then she drooled in slow motion. It was gross but also amusing and incredibly endearing at the same time.

On the weekends, Nala liked to lounge in whatever box Aaron had in his office and periodically pester him for affection as he played video games. Occasionally she convinced him to let her up into his lap, upon which she would snuffle rather raspily along the lines of “My human is paying attention to me! I love my Chosen Person so much! He’s mine, mine, mine!”. I’m fairly certain that in Nala’s mind, she was Aaron’s girlfriend and I was demoted to their pet!